With Christmas already becoming a distant memory, a new study by Simply Business has found that the majority of small business owners in the UK are feeling positive about their prospects for the year ahead.
Of the 1500 small business owners surveyed, over half said they felt optimistic about their potential for growth in 2018, and a further third expected to maintain their 2017 performance this year.
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Northern Ireland tops chart for small business confidence
Encouragingly for businesses across England and Wales, there was little regional variation in terms of business confidence, with only six percentage points between the most confident area (the South West) and the least confident area (the North East).
However, businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland outstripped the rest of the UK in their optimism, with almost two thirds of Scottish small businesses expecting growth in 2018, and over three quarters of their Northern Irish counterparts feeling the same way.
|Region||% who feel optimistic about 2018 growth|
|Yorkshire and Humber||52|
Younger small business owners most confident
While there was no variation in business confidence based on gender, it appears the younger you are, the more likely you are to believe in your business’s growth potential.
The under 25s are the most confident group of small business owners, with 65 per cent saying they felt optimistic about the growth of their business in 2018. At the other end of the spectrum, the over 55s are the least likely to feel optimistic, with only 40 per cent feeling that way.
Of course, not planning business growth over the next year isn’t necessarily an indication of worry about business potential - a number of small business owners who are over 55 mentioned that retirement was one of their aims for the year ahead.
|Age range||% who feel optimistic about 2018 growth|
|25 - 35||65|
|35 - 45||58|
|45 - 50||46|
Small business owners divided on work/life balance
The research also looked at the priorities for small businesses in 2018. 43 per cent of small businesses are hoping for more sales and customers, while 29 per cent aim to spend more time with friends and family and a further 22 per cent want more time for leisure activities.
Fiona McSwein, Chief Customer Officer at Simply Business, said: “It’s brilliant to see that the self-employed are in confident mood going into the year ahead. We share their sense of optimism, and look forward to seeing the UK’s brilliant small business community continue to grow in 2018.
“At Simply Business we are proud to support the small businesses and sole traders who are crucial to the success of the British economy, and wish them every success for the festive period and beyond.”